Case Law

US Circuit Courts

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Federal laws passed by our elected US Senators and US Representatives and then signed by the President have the highest status among our laws. These laws are somewhat like directives from a corporation’s CEO, setting overall direction/vision which is called “congressional intent”, often employing very general and vague language such as “reasonable time period” or “seek to promote competition”. The various Federal Agencies, such as the FDA, EPA and FCC are given the task of writing Federal regulations to implement these laws (the blocking and tackling of how to administer each Federal law). Each Federal regulation must be consistent with the congressional intent of the law it is attempting to implement.

Federal regulations are routinely challenged in Federal courts, when the regulations overreach to the point of being inconsistent with the congressional intent of the laws they are attempting to implement. Many of our Federal Agencies are captured agencies: they are dominated by the industries that they presumably regulate. None is more captured than the Federal Communications Commmission, which currently is comprised of only four of the five commissioners that it should have.

Ajit Pai

Thumbnail photo of Ajit Pai

Michael O’Rielly

Thumbnail picture of Commissioner Michael O'Rielly

Brendan Carr

Brendan Carr

Jessica Rosenworcel

Jessica Rosenworcel

The bottom line is that we are left with one set of Federal laws (and a slew of Federal Regulations) that might have various interpretations among the cases heard by the many different District Appellate Courts. For California the buck stops at the Ninth District Court of Appeals (unless the decision is appealed to and heard by the US Supreme Court). Lower court rulings in the Ninth District do not carry the same weight as the rulings by the Ninth District Court of Appeals. In Telecommunications law, the key terms of Significant Gap in Coverage and Least Intrusive Means (which applies only to Telecommunications Services — the ability to make calls and send texts — which is distinct and separate from Information Services — downloading Internet and Video data — were each defined in the following case: or

METROPCS, INC., a Delaware Corporation, Plaintiff-Appellant-Cross-Appellee, v. The CITY AND COUNTY OF SAN FRANCISCO and The Board of Supervisors of the City of San Francisco, Defendants-Appellees-Cross-Appellants.

Nos. 03-16759, 03-16760.
Decided: March 07, 2005

From Wikipedia:

The United States district courts are the general trial courts of the United States federal court system. Both civil and criminal cases are filed in the district court, which is a court of law, equity, and admiralty. There is a United States bankruptcy court associated with each United States district court. Each federal judicial district has at least one courthouse, and many districts have more than one. The formal name of a district court is “the United States District Court for” the name of the district—for example, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. There are 94 active United States district and territorial courts. Each of the 50 states has between one and four district courts, and the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico each have a district court.

In contrast to the Supreme Court, which was established by Article III of the Constitution, the district courts were established by Congress. There is no constitutional requirement that district courts exist at all. Indeed, after the ratification of the Constitution, some opponents of a strong federal judiciary urged that, outside jurisdictions under direct federal control like Washington, D.C. and the territories, the federal court system be limited to the Supreme Court, which would hear appeals from state courts. This view did not prevail, however, and the first Congress created the district court system that is still in place today.

The Central District of California is the largest federal district by population; it includes all five counties that make up the Greater Los Angeles Area. By contrast, New York City and the surrounding metropolitan area are divided between the Southern District of New York (which includes Manhattan, The Bronx and Westchester County) and the Eastern District of New York (which includes Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, Nassau County and Suffolk County). The Southern District of New York and the Central District of California are the largest federal districts by number of judges, with 28 and 27, respectively. The busiest patent litigation court is the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, with the most patent lawsuits filed there nearly every year.